In what may be the longest performance in MTV Video Music Awards history — and definitely the longest in this particular edition of the kudofest without either nudity or simulated sex — Michael Jackson Video Vanguard winner Justin Timberlake ran through a chunk of his solo catalog and threw a brief bone to his old *NSYNC buddies.
Wearing a suit jacket, fedora and silver-tipped white shoes, Timberlake popped, locked and stepped his way through, among others, “Cry Me a River,” “My Love,” “Like I Love You,” “Sexy Back,” “Take Back the Night” and “Suit & Tie.”
Covering the entire stage at one point or another, Timberlake welcomed — in a don’t-get-a-sammich-or-you’ll-miss-it moment — the remainder of *NSYNC for a quick dance hit and a bit of the 2000 hit “Bye Bye Bye.”
The celebrity-studdied audience in Brooklyn, N.Y., seemed appreciative, with visible grooving from Will Smith, Rihanna, the lads of New Direction and Lady Gaga (who, still dressed in her seashell thong bikini from earlier in the night, nearly swooned.)
Taylor Swift bopped and rocked throughout, appearing to know the lyrics to every Timberlake tune.
When Timberlake finished after about 15 continuous minutes, anyone who sprinted for the bathroom missed the actual presentation of the award, in which former VMAs host Jimmy Fallon — who also introduced Timberlake — gave his best Irish-American-boy imitation of a Southern preacher.
“He’s become a legend!” Fallon said. “I’m talking *NSYNC, what was that?”
Timberlake then came out, announced everybody got some extra cash in the gift bags — heh heh — and declared that he didn’t deserve the award but wasn’t going to give it back.
He then offered to share it with his *NSYNC buddies, but said it would remain at his house.
Following that, actor/comedian Kevin Hart — who has appeared repeatedly throughout the telecast, declaring each time that he is not the host, to remark that *NSYNC “was p***ed off because he only let them do one song.”
He also claimed the former boy-banders had gained some weight, and that Joey Fatone farted.
Because they needed more salt poured into the wound.